1The place name Tubac is an English borrowing from a Hispanicized form of a northern Piman Indian place designation. English speakers tend to accent the word on its first syllable and drawl that first vowel. Contemporary Spanish speakers tend to accent the final syllable although such usage violates the norms of Spanish stress which would place the accent upon the penultimate syllable. The term Tubac has a written accent over the "a" in many Spanish manuscripts, denoting this stress pattern and proving its relative antiquity. This stress pattern probably reflects an historic elimination of a third and final syllable in the term, for when first taken into Spanish speech, it was spelled Tubaca. The written accent on the "a" of Tubac possibly represents an attempt to retain an accent on this final syllable after the original final syllable was dropped.

In any event, the Spaniards modified the original Indian accent of the term in adopting it to their usage. The original Indian word was stressed upon its initial syllable. This was and is the rule in northern Piman speech, and the 2word is still so pronounced by contemporary Piman speakers.  An additional phonetic change in the original Piman term was made by Spaniards adopting it. The initial consonant was changed from tch or tdj to an ordinary Indo-European "T" with the sound value of the initial "T" in ten.

The northern Piman consonant rendered tch or tdj has no Spanish or English equivalent, hence it was not adopted. The Spanish and Piman "u" is like the oo in English cool; the Spanish "b" or "v" is a labial softer than the English "b", yet harder than the Piman aspirated "w" and this second consonant in the place name is now pronounced "harder" by Spanish speaking residents in southern Arizona as a result of English influence. The Spanish and Piman "a" sounds like the "a" of father in English. The Spanish "c" is equivalent in this usage to an English "k" and stands for a Piman consonant which is an intermediate glottal written sometimes "g" and sometimes "k" in English and "g" or "c" in Spanish. The Pimans do not distinguish two consonants as do the European languages.

The original Piman place name may be written Tchoowaka in English orthography, remembering that the initial syllable is accented. Tchuvaca would be a somewhat more accurate Spanish rendition than the conventional version.

Tchoowaka translates into English as "rotten."

At some past time Piman oral tradition may have included an origin legend for this place name or may always have carried 3only the simple explanation offered nowadays. Some enemies attacked Tumacacori (Tchookum Kavolik, "Where the Caliche Curves") and then Tchoowaka, where several of them were killed by the Pimans, as the story goes. Their bodies lay there and rotted, so that place came to be called Tchoowaka or literally "rotten" (Rios 1959:2). By extension, the place name carries the connotation "Place Where Some Enemies Rotted" to a speaker of northern Piman familiar with the explanation.

Tchoowaka does not mean "house" nor "adobe house" nor "ruins" as deduced by Frederick W. Hodge (Coues 1900:I:69) who apparently consulted no Piman speakers on the subject. Just what basis Hodge had for his armchair deductions is not clear-the place names he used to infer the connotation he offered include one Opata settlement with three northern Piman places.

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